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Russia to develop Caspian Sea harbours

Russia’s federal government has approved a development strategy to 2030 for the country’s Caspian Sea ports, as well as the rail and road approaches to them.

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The document envisages a dramatic growth in the volumes of Russian exports handled by the domestic Caspian ports. Thus, it is planned to expand the dry bulk exports via the region’s harbours to 14 Mtpa, including 7 Mtpa of grain.

The strategy would be implemented along several key lines, specifically through the formation of a sustainable transport and logistics corridor with Iran, India and the Persian Gulf markets, and the development of the region’s export-oriented industrial and business potential.

The aggregate volume of cargoes handled by the Russian Caspian ports of Astrakhan, Olya and Makhachkala almost halved to 5.6 Mt between 2010 and 2016, according to the nation’s Seaports Association (ASOP).

In a bid to unlock synergies and thus improve its competitive positions, the new strategy would see Moscow integrate the Astrakhan, Olya and Makhachkala ports as the so-called Caspian Transport and Logistics Hub.

The project is being conceived as part of the Russia-prompted NorthSouth and West-East transport and logistics corridors, and an alternative to the traditional transcontinental routes via the Black Sea and the Suez.

Makhachkala, Russia’s only ice-free Caspian seaport, with a potential to increase its annual handling volume from 1.5-2 Mt to 10-12 Mt, is seen as the hub’s key element.

The strategy also implies development of Russia’s minor Caspian ports, such as Derbent and Kaspiysk. Thus, the ministry for the North Caucasus has suggested building a new ice-free, deepwater harbour capable of accommodating 20,000+ dwt ships between Makhachkala and Kaspiysk.

The project would require around US$340M from the federal budget.

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